NFL Owner Compares Players Protesting Racial Injustice to Criminals Running a Prison

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about trying to give people the benefit of the doubt and forgiving people for saying or doing something incredibly stupid. While my patience may wear thin when it comes to third, fourth, or fifth chances, I’m a huge believer in giving people a second chance to correct a mistake.

None of us are infallible — we all screw up.

That said, I think there’s a difference between a sincere apology for making a mistake and being forced to ask for forgiveness because people found out something you didn’t think they ever would.

Such as Houston Texans owner Bob McNair issuing an apology after ESPN reported that during meetings last week when Mr. McNair was talking about the National Anthem protests, he said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

For him to have said that is pretty awful for a number of reasons.

First, of course, it’s never a good look when a rich white male speaks about a league whose players are a majority African American in such a way that he seems to be implying that they’re second-class citizens or pieces of property. Especially considering these protests are about bringing attention to racial injustice. While I don’t think McNair is a racist, the optics of someone in his position saying this about protests concerning the treatment of  African Americans in this country is awful.

Then there’s always the fact that, even though it’s true he’s the owner and his team’s players are his employees, it’s usually discouraged for a “boss” to talk about those working for them, especially with as much as these players put their bodies and health on the line for their teams, in such a disrespectful way. I’m fairly certain most people reading this wouldn’t like to know that their boss viewed them as equals to criminals in a prison who are there to do and say as they’re told.

For the record, comparing anyone to criminals, especially considering the injustices in this country that have led to a disproportionately larger number of African Americans being imprisoned than any other race, should never be done. For McNair to have said this is a prime example of just how out-of-touch he — and many others like him — are about what these protests are all about.

Now I’m not going to go as far as to say that McNair saying this is worse than when Donald Trump referred to players who protest as “son’s of b*tches,” but it’s definitely not good. With as divisive as this subject has already been, especially considering the racial implications surrounding it, a rich white male speaking about players by comparing them to criminals and talking about them like they’re subservient human beings who should know their place is a part of the reason why these protests began in the first place.

While I’m glad Bob McNair apologized, that doesn’t negate the fact that what he said is clearly what he feels. What he does next is up to him. If I were giving him advice I’d tell him to use this controversy as a moment to help better educate himself on what these protests are about and why they began in the first place.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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